Column: Legacy’s season exemplifies values of its program


TROY — Legacy Christian’s girls basketball team has the expectation of making it to districts each season.

From the outside looking in, it’s due to their repeated history of getting to that point in the postseason year after year. Six trips in seven seasons will create that belief. The team itself, though, while wanting to focus on itself each year uses an eternal drive to live up to the no-pun intended legacy of the teams of previous seasons.

This year’s journey may have included both the highest level of unexpectedness and ending satisfaction of the current run of district final appearances.

With every player but one returning from the 2022-23 team, it was reasonably believed the Knights were set up to be a force once again. A curveball came three minutes into the season though when Alli Graves, the reigning Metro Buckeye Conference player of the year, went down to a season-ending injury.

The team’s top guard and league’s best two-way player suddenly was out of the picture. A freshman was thrusted onto the court in her first ever varsity game as her replacement.

It would have been understandable for the Knights to hit a few speed bumps during the season as they adjusted to their new situation. It didn’t happen though, and it just wouldn’t fit the culture which has been built at LCA even if it did.

“It just provided this instantaneous, ‘Oh, man. What’s this year going to look like?’” head coach Mark Combs said. “And we just had kids step up. There were roles that had to be filled at that point in time that kids didn’t see themselves having to do when we were getting ready over the summer. But that’s what makes teams great is that there is just a step up mentality.”

Legacy Christian took a loss to one of the state’s top teams in Division III in game three, but followed up by spitting out 11 straight wins to match the 2022-23 team’s longest winning streak. They went on to finish 20-4 overall, unbeaten in the league and capturing its seventh straight conference title. And earned the No. 1-seed in the South sectional.

All while creating their success together as a team.

The final stats for the Knights were eerily similar. No player ranked in the top-5 in the league for scoring or rebounding. Seven of the top-9 leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio though all were from LCA. The same group all averaged at least one steal per game. They all shot percentages from the field close to one another.

For Legacy Christian, it’s all about doing what is needed for the good of the group.

“That’s just the integrity that starts with the kids in our senior class,” Combs said. “We got kids that really care. You just don’t get to where we are by not, so they care about practice and they care about getting better and competing.”

This year’s seniors fit that mold perfectly. Alayna Allport, Emah Carrasco, Hadassa Oliver and Audrey Stanley all were players that could be counted on at different times. And Combs said all of the team’s success wouldn’t have continued without them leading their teammates to keep buying into the team mentality.

“It’s a super class from all four of them,” he said. “Great kids, great leaders. They’ve been through their own adverse situations as a class, but our school is better because those four are there. And then secondarily, our basketball team is better because of those four and then if you want to go global, I think the world is better because those four kids are around.”

This year’s district final matchup on Saturday came down to the final minute. LCA found itself letting the game get away from them early the second half, but just going away quietly isn’t their style. The Knights made sure their opponent, which had just defeated the defending state champions in the round before, was going to earn their win.

Legacy is likely set up for things to continue next year. The expectations they are creating are good motivation. And they should be eager to show off again what they hope they can accomplish at full strength.

“I didn’t know if we would really win 20 games and get to a district final,” Combs said of this season. “Small schools like us, you lose your best player and that usually just isn’t how things work out for you. I think most coaches in Division IV can say that. It’s just really hard to lose that top notch talent and kind of survive the season. I’m super proud of the kids and I couldn’t have envisioned it going any better and I’m really thankful for them.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.

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